Thursday, January 22, 2009

Israel: A Three State Solution

Favorite Uncle Dave has an idea for dealing with the Israeli/Palestinian situation that we think has serious merit.

He suggests a three state solution to the crisis, rather than the two-state solution typically bandied about. Under the two-state solution, Palestinians would be allowed to have their own sovereign state in exchange for recognizing Israel and attempting to live in peace with the Israelis. (The two states are thus Israel and Palestine.)

The Palestinian state would consist of the West Bank and Gaza in the two-state solution. Of late, the West Bank has been relatively quiet, under the leadership of Fatah, while Gaza has been restive under the militant thumb of Hamas. With Fatah and Hamas battling each other for power, it's practically impossible for the Israelis to negotiate with the Palestinians in the "two-state" scenario. Another problem is that Gaza and the West Bank are physically separated from each other.

Under the three-state proposal, Israel would offer to recognize two different Palestinian states: one on the West Bank and one in Gaza. The process with the West Bank could get underway now, and serve as a positive example for Gazans. Eventually, if the two Palestinian states wanted to merge under one government, they could. On the other hand, if the physical separation between the two made it more convenient and sensible to remain apart, they would.

Each of the Palestinian states in the three state scenario would have greater flexibility and autonomy to address their own unique problems and issues.

With two separate states, the Palestinians might avoid the problems that caused "East Pakistan" to revolt from "West Pakistan" in the early 1970's to form Bangladesh. When British India was first partitioned in 1947, the territory now known as Bangladesh decided to join with what is now known as Pakistan to form one country, with territories separated by 1000 miles of India. The eastern Muslims, however, chafed at a ruling party based primarily in the western part of the country and eventually broke away after a bloody war.

While Gaza and the West Bank are much closer, physically, than the two Pakistans were, the physical separation is likely to lead to a divergence of economic development and other strategies over time.

We urge the new Obama administration to think creatively in trying to solve the intractable dispute in the Middle East, including consideration of the three-state proposal.


Favorite Uncle D said...

At this point, West Bank and Gaza are much more different than they are similar.

Czechoslovakia is another good example of physically adjacent territories that just don't go together as well as chocolate and peanut butter.

Israel should negotiate towards peace and mutual recognition with West Bank/Fatah, while continuing to isolate Gaza/Hamas.

We need to press for some broader dialogue around this theme.

Anonymous said...

A for effort on this one. But, what do the Palestinians think? If this is Bandledesh or Czechoslovakia all over again, that's one thing and a great idea. If its the Berlin Treaty in Africa all over again, then its a terrible idea.